The institutional value for human life: Comparing the United States and Canada
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Does a regime's institutional value for human life have an impact on society? Specifically, does the institutional value for human life (IVHL) influence the occurrence of murder in the United States and Canada? This paper builds on a paper by Kirchgässner (2011), and theories derived from the death penalty literature (Ehrlich 1975, 1977; Donohue and Wolfers 2005, 2009; Shepherd 2005). This paper presents new analyses on the two contradictory theories in the death penalty literature, which are the theory of deterrence and the theory of brutalization. Deterrence claims that the death penalty decreases the murder rate, while brutalization claims that the death penalty increases the murder rate. This paper also presents a new proposition to expand on the theoretical framework for the theory of brutalization. After analyzing the impact of the IVHL on the murder rate in the US and Canada with qualitative and quantitative methodologies, I find some evidence supporting the brutalizing effect, and no evidence supporting the theory of deterrence.